Perhaps better known as manufacturers of world leading off-road bikes, the KTM RC8 arrived in 2008 fully developed from its concept which had been around since 2003. Given the KTM is a relatively small fish in a large pond of motorcycle manufacturers, it was important for KTM to get this right.
And get it right they have, creating a machine that enjoys incredible speed, fantastic response and the sheer character of, say a Ducati 1098 along with the complete usability and practicality of a Honda VFR800. This is a machine that is both comfortable, practical and yet at the same time barking mad.
KTM's Thomas Kuttruf said of the RC8, "it was our aim to make the rider work easily with the bike. We are all different weights, heights, have different tastes. Also, as engines are now so powerful, ergonomics are as essential as chassis setup. So we think it's important that you feel at home."
Given that KTM's previous attempts at road bikes in the Super Duke and the 950SM that were not entirely successful, many people were expecting the RC8 to be more of the same; big, fast but a bit of a handful to ride.
However, the RC8 has surprised many people by being so comfortable and adjustable. KTM appeared to have fulfilled the objective described by Thomas Kuttruf.
In terms of adjustment, the RC8 appears to have gone further than all its main competitors. The foot pegs can be adjusted backwards and forwards, and also up and down. Likewise, the clip on handlebars can be adjusted up or down the forks by up to 25 mm. Given that the seat height also has two positions and both the break and gear levers can also be adjusted, perhaps older riders like myself who find sports bikes riding positions to uncomfortable, may feel tempted to venture back into the sports bike arena.
KTM have also made it unnecessary for the rider to move his hand from the handlebars to operate the interestingly styled clocks. Instead, they are operated from a useful control on the left side switchgear.
With so much adjustability, one could be forgiven for wondering if this is just a series of gimmicks. Sure, KTM have built a lot of innovation into the bike to make it usable, but is it any good?
Well yes, actually. Despite all the possible adjustments, the bike is incredibly light and offers superb handling with remarkably light steering and superbly responsive brakes.
The 1148cc 8 valve V-twin engine produced the same peak power as the Ducati 1098, but we felt that it offered greater flexibility in its delivery. Given that this bike can be adjusted to suit just about any rider's favoured position, KTM appear to have cracked a rather large nut.